How Important is a Final Walkthrough for a Home Buyer?

A final walkthrough is part of the real estate transaction but it isn’t always performed. This article discusses why a final walkthrough is important.

how important is a final walkthrough when buying a house

What is a Final Walkthrough?

A final walkthrough is just that: the buyer and agent walk through the house to take a final look before signing papers and closing on the home. The main purpose is to make sure that nothing has changed since the buyers originally agreed to buy the house. It’s a chance to make sure everything’s in order.

A final walkthrough is not required by law but it shouldn’t be overlooked. My brokerage requires it as a way of protecting the buyer.

When Should You Do a Final Walkthrough?

A final walkthrough should be done as close to closing as possible. I usually schedule them for the day before closing so there’s time to take care of any issues that arise but not too far out that something could really change between the walkthrough and closing. Sometimes I’ll do a walkthrough the morning of the closing but I only like to do that if I’m quite sure everything’s going to be in stellar shape.

During a walk through, you want to go room by room and make sure the house is in the same condition {or better} than when you signed the contract. Once that’s done, I have buyers sign a walkthrough document that says they’ve walked through the house.

The walkthrough is a great chance to look at repairs that were done. I like to bring a copy of our repair amendment and check off each item as we go through. Repair receipts have already been received at that point but it’s a chance to see things in person.

It’s also good to note if there’s anything missing that was supposed to be staying. If the seller has removed fixtures that weren’t excluded in the contract, they need to be brought back and reinstalled. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen.

If the seller has already moved out before the walkthrough, it’s ideal. You can really see the house without throw rugs and furniture covering potential defects. It’s a blank slate. You can also ensure that no damage was done during the move. On a minor note, a walk through is also a chance to make sure the seller has actually taken all of their items. If you walk in and the garage is full of junk, the seller has some extra work to do before closing.

Where does it get tricky? When there’s a leaseback in place and the sellers are still living there after closing. In that situation, I still do a walkthrough with the buyer before closing so we have an accurate idea of the condition of the home. When the buyer actually moves in after the leaseback ends, you have a baseline for the condition if something does arise.

What Happens If There Are Issues During a Walkthrough?

If there are issues noted during a walkthrough, the agent will first contact the seller’s agent to remedy the situation before closing. If there’s a big issue, closing may have to be delayed in order to take care of it. If you are going ahead with closing, the Title company can hold money in an escrow account to take care of the issue rather than releasing all proceeds to the seller. The way issues are dealt with will depend a lot on the needs of both parties.

So, how important is a walkthrough? The bottom line is, a walk through is one more way to protect the parties involved in a transaction and should never be skipped.

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